Job interview dos and don'ts
Is it time for a change? Has your summer holiday made you reevaluate your career? Or are you making a move up the corporate ladder?
A job interview may very well be in your near future.
No matter how many you have taken part in, the close scrutiny of an interview never seems to get less intimidating and at a senior level, the pressure is on.
To help you along in landing the job of your dreams, Eleanor O'Neill has listed our pick of interview dos and don'ts.
Do... Research your potential employer well
Think beyond the mission statement and website 'About' page. Research any earnings reports and business articles that may talk about recent developments or changed priorities.
Blogs or social media may also give you an insight into the office culture.
Even if you aren't changing companies, consider what you know about the interviewer. Check their LinkedIn profile and find out if they have a more specific bio on the organisation website.
Don't... Forget your resumé
Review your CV and job application ahead of time to ensure you can talk confidently about your career history and relevant skills. It's also important to tailor your resume and cover letter to suit each application.
Ideally, you should have something detailed to say about each posting. What did you learn? What were your top achievements? Was there a particularly rewarding aspect of it? What can you relate to the role you are interviewing for?
A hard copy of your documents should accompany you to the meeting and a brief set of notes on what you want to say can be extremely useful.
Do... Consider your online presence
Personality can be as important as qualifications and an employer is likely to do their research on you as well.
You may not think too carefully about what you post online but some seemingly inane day-to-day social media usage could send up red flags. Political leanings, profane language or unflattering photos can all turn a company off.
Social Sweepster is a online service that uses a combination of computer vision and language processing to identify problematic content and help you delete it.
Don't... Be over-rehearsed
Anticipating certain questions and having answers prepared is a good thing. But if you are obviously working from a mental script then it may suggest you have trouble improvising or lack communication skills.
Keep a few key points in mind and try to answer naturally, adapting to any specifics the interviewer may infer.
For example, if you are asked about your background, don't just rhyme off your employment history. Mention important times in your career, but also when you became interested in the sector, how you spend your free time and what you want to achieve.
Do... Think aloud
If you need time to consider your answer, saying as much is better than floundering in silence. Asking for a moment or clarifying a point can be an effective demonstration of how you cope under pressure.
Interviews for particularly technical positions may include analytical questions intended to measure both your logic skills and reasoning ability. Voice your thoughts as you work out an answer so the interviewer may follow your thinking.
Likewise, you may be offered a challenging decision in a scenario type question. Weigh your options aloud so your intentions are clear.
Don't... Avoid difficult answers
Sensitive subjects like your reasons for leaving previous positions, qualifications you are lacking or admitting weaknesses can be difficult to negotiate.
Answers should always be honest but refrain from dwelling on negatives. Try to put a positive spin on them and end with a high note.
Detail what you have learned from bad experiences, explain why something may have been out of your control and discuss the steps you are taking to improve in areas that need it.
Do... Use specific examples
Tailoring your answers to the job description will show not only that you have the right skills but also that you did your research and understand the role.
Try using PAR anecdotes. Discuss a particular 'Problem', the 'Action' you took to deal with it and what the 'Result' was.
Using this format and telling a story comes across as more natural and confident than simply claiming you know how to do a specific thing or have been in a similar situation before.
Don't... Ask what you already know
There is no point to asking about an aspect of the business that is covered on their webpage.
Use the end of the interview to ask for more in-depth information on company strategies that are directly tied to your potential role. If you are being brought in to implement changes, what will the timescale be? What are the top projects your future employer will want you to focus on? How would they describe the team culture? Who are the main internal and external stakeholders you will be working with?
This can also be an opportunity to highlight any accomplishments that have not come up previously. For example, mention that you are bilingual and ask about travel opportunities.